|Posted on June 7, 2018 at 9:45 AM|
Over the last 40 years of pastoral counseling I have noticed an underlying issue common to all kinds of personal and relational problems people encounter. They are so focused on what needs to be done to solve their problem (either by themselves or others) they are obsessed with trying to do something to eliminate it or, at least, alleviate it somewhat. They often ask the question, “What shall I do or not do?” hoping for an answer that will agree with their thinking about a possible solution. But this question overlooks the bigger issue lurking beneath their problem. A more precise question is, “What is God telling me to do?” which then leads to the real issue of not being able to hear God communicate with them.
Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice and recognize him as their shepherd. But I’ve noticed over the years that most Christians seem to struggle with this. In fact, many Christians have serious doubts as to whether God really does talk to them. So, when it comes to dealing with their problems they are limited to their own understanding or the opinion of others. While they may seem to get along well in this secular world we live in today, not being able to hear God seriously undermines their own sense of personal worth. It’s no wonder that modern Christians are often just as insecure as their non-believing peers and incapable of truly loving family and friends in healthy relationships.
“Hearing God” or sensing his personal direction in our lives as the term implies is the birthright of every child of God. Many do not experience such personal direction simply because they don’t believe God is speaking to them. Having lost the hearing in one ear it is difficult for me to hear some conversations. But if I don’t believe someone is speaking to me I almost certainly won’t hear them talking. Paul eliminates this obstacle by informing us that if we are a child of God we are continually being led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8: 14). This means that the communication breakdown is on our part not his and it begins with simply not realizing he is talking to us.
But even when we know it’s possible to hear God we may encounter another problem in that we are not sure we will agree with or like what he has to say to us. Not understanding the depths of God’s love for us we may get the idea he is going to tell us something we don’t want to hear. Many Christians fear his condemnation because they are not convinced of who God has made them to be in Christ. Mistaking their true identity for their flesh they relate to God as their judge rather than a loving Father. This fear blocks them from even trying to hear him. Some of us even go so far as to ask God what he wants us to do but do so only to see our alternatives rather than trust his direction. No wonder we don’t hear him! He will not lead us into rebellion and sin.
Again, Paul goes on in Romans 8: 15, 16 to provide us with the assurance that we have not received the spirit of bondage unto fear, but the Spirit of adoption which seeks only our best. We have nothing to fear from hearing God since whatever he says to us will include assurances of his love and acceptance. And whatever he wants us to do he will give us the desire to do it! Hearing the Father’s direction for our lives is our greatest need. Listen up!